Tag Archive for 'Medical tourism'

Inside India’s rent-a-womb business

Gestational dormitories, routine C-sections, quintuple embryo implants. Brave new world? Nope. It’s surrogacy tourism, reports Scott Carney for Mother Jones

From its pock-marked exterior walls and stark interior, you’d never guess that the pink three-story building tucked in a narrow alley a few blocks from the train station in the fast-growing city of Anand houses India’s most successful surrogate childbirth business. But this is the place they raved about on Oprah. Nowadays, thanks to the endorsement of daytime TV’s leading lady, the Akanksha Infertility Clinic fertilizes eggs, implants and incubates embryos, and finally delivers contract babies at a rate of nearly one a week. more

Indian superbug spurs global alarm

From BBC: A new superbug that is resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics has entered UK hospitals, experts warn. They say bacteria that make an enzyme called NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase-1) have travelled back with NHS patients who went abroad to countries like India and Pakistan for treatments such as cosmetic surgery.

Although there have only been about 50 cases identified in the UK so far, scientists fear it will go global. Tight surveillance and new drugs are needed says Lancet Infectious Diseases. More:

What is NDM-1?

New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase-1, or NDM-1 for short, is a gene carried by bacteria that makes the strain resistant to carbapenem antibiotics. This is concerning because these antibiotics are some of the most powerful ones, used on hard-to-treat infections that evade other drugs. More

Click here for Lancet study

From Daily Mail: Dr David Livermore, director of antibiotic resistance monitoring at HPA, said resistance to one of the major groups of antibiotics, the carbapenems, is found throughout India.

‘This is important because carbapenems were often the last ‘good’ antibiotics active against bacteria that already were more resistant to more standard drugs.’

The first two patients confirmed to have been infected had traveled abroad shortly before they were admitted to hospital in the UK. One patient carrying the tainted bacteria was transferred to a Nottingham hospital at the end of last year after suffering a trauma injury in Pakistan. More:

We’ve only got ourselves to blame for the indestructible Indian superbug

From Daily Mail: Knowing what we know now, if we could go back in time we would have prescribed antibiotics sparingly and only when they were really needed.

If we had done that, we may not have been facing the prospect of superbugs for the next 100 years.

Instead, antibiotics have been massively overprescribed, thrown willy-nilly at patients by harassed and time-pressed doctors for a host of minor ailments – often coughs and colds that aren’t even caused by bacteria in the first place.

As Professor Enright says: ‘Every time you throw enough antibiotics at enough people, you encourage the evolution of drug-resistant mutants.’

This happens everywhere, from GP surgeries in Britain and the U.S. – where antibiotics are the medicine of choice for just about every minor childhood snuffle – to India, where antibiotics are available cheaply over the counter without a prescription. More:

Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?

In The Guardian: The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out. Once, scientists hailed the end of infectious diseases. Now, the post-antibiotic apocalypse is within sight.

Hyperbole? Unfortunately not. The highly serious journal Lancet Infectious Diseases yesterday posed the question itself over a paper revealing the rapid spread of multi-drug-resistant bacteria. “Is this the end of antibiotics?” it asked.

Doctors and scientists have not been complacent, but the paper by Professor Tim Walsh and colleagues takes the anxiety to a new level.More:

The Henry Ford of heart surgery


In India, a factory model for hospitals is cutting costs and yielding profits. Geeta Anand in the Wall Street Journal:

Hair tucked into a surgical cap, eyes hidden behind thick-framed magnifying glasses, Devi Shetty leans over the sawed open chest of an 11-year-old boy, using bright blue thread to sew an artificial aorta onto his stopped heart.

As Dr. Shetty pulls the thread tight with scissors, an assistant reads aloud a proposed agreement for him to build a new hospital in the Cayman Islands that would primarily serve Americans in search of lower-cost medical care. The agreement is inked a few days later, pending approval of the Cayman parliament.

Dr. Shetty, who entered the limelight in the early 1990s as Mother Teresa’s cardiac surgeon, offers cutting-edge medical care in India at a fraction of what it costs elsewhere in the world. His flagship heart hospital charges $2,000, on average, for open-heart surgery, compared with hospitals in the U.S. that are paid between $20,000 and $100,000, depending on the complexity of the surgery. More:

Overseas, under the knife

From the New York Times:

One consequence of the high cost of medical care in the United States has been the rise of medical tourism. Every year, thousands of Americans undergo surgery in other countries because the allure of good care at half the price is too good to pass up.

Average total fees at well-regarded hospitals like Apollo and Wockhardt in India are 60 percent to 90 percent lower than those of the average American hospital, according to a 2007 study by the consulting group Mercer Health and Benefits (where Dr. Milstein is affiliated). Even compared with low-cost American hospitals, the offshore fees are 20 percent to 50 percent lower. More:

US insurer offers option for surgery in India

From the New York Times:

The health insurer Wellpoint is testing a new program that gives covered patients the option of going to India for elective surgery, with no out-of-pocket medical costs and free travel for both the patient and a companion.

The program is being tested at Serigraph, a printing company in Wisconsin whose managers have been looking for ways to curb rising health care costs, said Dr. Razia Hashmi, chief medical officer for national accounts for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which is affiliated with Wellpoint.

“This is a first for us,” Dr. Hashmi said. “We will be monitoring every aspect of this very closely, to make sure everyone is satisfied and there are good clinical outcomes.”


Robin Cook and his dangerous Indian beauties

Robin Cook (of Coma fame) is ready with his new thriller: Foreign Body. It’s about the dark side of medical tourism and “the action begins in New Delhi, India, where a mysterious hot nurse puts a mysterious injection into an older woman… The nurse works for cutthroat medical entrepreneurs.”

Michael Eisner is former chief of Disney during whose tenure the studio produced such hit films as Saturday Night Fever and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

According to a story on NPR’s All Things Considered, Cook told Eisner he has a book coming out in August about Americans going to India for cut-rate operations. “It was full of suspense, murder and sexy nurses,” and suggested “a series of videos that would be a prequel.”

Result? “A low-budget, quick-and-dirty web series” produced by Vuguru, Eisner’s year-old broadband production company. There are 50 episodes of two-minutes each.


The making of the Foreign Body web series

From Los Angeles Times:

How do you go about telling a story in two-minute increments? Click here for how the series was made. [Photo: The filming of Foreign Body]

And the exotic thriller

From foreignbody.tv:

A group of dangerous Indian beauties, brimming with hope and desire are brought to the sunny shores of Southern California and are promised the American dream. They are taken in by a group of young, cutthroat medical entrepreneurs who hope to train them and cultivate their nursing skills for their own mysterious ends. The women soon become seduced by the brash and ambitious charmer who lords over them, but for him, his lust for the one, mysterious, unattainable beauty threatens to unravel the very conspiracy he built.


And some more here and here

Foreign couples turn to India for surrogate mothers

Reproductive outsourcing is a new but rapidly expanding enterprise in India. Amelia Gentleman reports from Mumbai in International Herald tribune:


Yonatan Gher and his male partner plan eventually to tell their child that it was made in India, in the womb of a woman they never met, with the egg of a Mumbai housewife they picked out from an Internet line-up of candidates.

The embryo was formed in January in an Indian fertility clinic about 4,000 kilometers, or 2,500 miles, from Gher’s home in Tel Aviv, nurtured by a team of doctors who have begun specializing in surrogacy services for couples from around the world.

As they waited to see if the fertilization process had been successful, Gher, 29, and his partner sped around the streets of Mumbai in the back of an autorickshaw, drinking in scenes of a country they had never previously visited, staring at the unfamiliar faces of Indian women and children and “trying to imagine our child,” he said.

(Photo: Surrogate mothers at the Kaival Hospital at Anand, in the western Indian state of Gujarat in February 2006. AP)


IHT also has photos and audio of an Israeli man searching for a surrogate mother